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US STOCKS-Wall Street rises, S&P hits fresh all-time high
April 10, 2013 / 2:25 PM / 5 years ago

US STOCKS-Wall Street rises, S&P hits fresh all-time high

* S&P breaks through intraday record shortly after open

* FOMC minutes released, ahead of schedule, at 9:00am EDT

* Indexes up: Dow 0.6 pct, S&P 0.7 pct, Nasdaq 1.1 pct

By Leah Schnurr

NEW YORK, April 10 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks rose on Wednesday and the S&P 500 climbed to a new all-time record as investors scooped up technology and financial shares that have lagged gains in other sectors recently.

The Federal Reserve unexpectedly released the minutes from its most recent policy-setting meeting several hours early. The minutes showed a few policymakers expected to taper the pace of asset purchases by midyear and end them later this year, while several others expected to slow the pace a bit later and halt the quantitative easing program by year-end.

As the FOMC meeting referenced in Wednesday’s minutes occurred before last week’s data - which showed job creation was unexpectedly weak in March - the market may place less importance on it, said Ryan Detrick, senior technical strategist at Schaeffer’s Investment Research in Cincinnati, Ohio.

That number raised expectations the Fed will keep its quantitative easing program, known as “QE”, in place for some time.

“All things seem to be continuing to point to the bulls and QE will still be there. (That) is the market’s take, at least,” said Detrick.

Financial shares helped lead the advance, with the sector gaining 0.7 percent, while tech shares gained 0.8 percent. In the past month, both sectors have lagged as investors pushed into more defensive areas, including healthcare and consumer staples.

The benchmark S&P rose as high as 1,579.95, breaking the record intraday level of 1,576.09 set in October 2007.

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 80.18 points, or 0.55 percent, to 14,753.64. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rose 10.72 points, or 0.68 percent, to 1,579.33. The Nasdaq Composite Index climbed 36.19 points, or 1.12 percent, to 3,274.05.

Investors were also positioning for the start of corporate earnings season. Among the 5 percent of S&P 500 companies that have reported results so far, almost three-quarters have topped expectations, according to Thomson Reuters data.

But quarterly profits are expected to grow just 1.5 percent from a year ago, down from a January estimate of 4.3 percent. The lowered expectations could make it easier for companies to beat analysts’ estimates and propel the market further.

Family Dollar Stores reported weaker-than-expected profit on Wednesday, sending its shares down 1.4 percent to $58.94.

Hospital operator Health Management Associates Inc cut its outlook for 2013 earnings and revenue, citing weak patient admissions in the first quarter of the year. The stock slumped 16 percent to $10.57.

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